Fairbanks Native Association (FNA), a non-profit urban tribal organization, developed the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) New Hope project to address the opioid epidemic in the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) community in the Interior region of Alaska. New Hope’s MAT Day Treatment Center will provide the hope and impetus necessary for opioid disorder users to achieve a life free of opioid abuse and one of overall wellbeing.
AI/AN have been hit the hardest of any ethnic group by the opioid epidemic (Bedrock Recovery, n.d.). Discrimination, historical trauma, stigma, a lack of resources, and workforce shortages have all contributed to this crisis (National Institute of Health, 2018-2019).
New Hope will serve two diverse populations; racial and gender minorities (AI/AN) and AI/AN who identify as LGBTQ. By mutual agreement FNA serves both American Indian and Alaska Natives. Services will be provided in the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB). The FNSB has extreme temperatures including winter temperatures as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit, presenting challenges to both consumers and service providers. The Purpose/Overarching Goal of New Hope is to expand and enhance access to medications and treatment for Opioid use Disorder (OUD). It will serve a total of 114 clients over the five-year life of the project. New Hope fills a specific service gap; while medication for OUD is provided by project partner Interior AIDS Association (IAA), there are no MAT programs serving AI/AN in the FNSB.
The project is a partnership between IAA and FNA. It is supported through the 22-member Interagency Transition Council (ITC), the community behavioral health coalition that comprises the AI/AN FNSB behavioral health system of care. This partnership streamlines the service system, provides collaboration in and among member organizations, ensures continuity in and among services, and increases access to care.
MAT Day Treatment will consist of a three-month length of stay for six clients per treatment cycle. It will offer Treatment Planning and Follow-Up, Behavioral Therapy, Group Therapy, Education, Talking Circle, Employment Education, Gender Education, Medications for Opioid Use Disorder Education, Trauma Treatment, Drug Monitoring and Testing and Transportation and Transition Planning followed by three months of Recovery Support Services. These services will be evidence-based, trauma-informed and culturally specific.